The first days back to school provide the opportunity to set the stage for the entire school year. Most importantly, I want my students to know how much I value them as individuals, and I work to connect with them from the moment they walk into the school building and head into my classroom. While some teachers love to dive straight into curriculum in those first moments of the brand new school year, I believe that the most essential work we can do as educators is to connect.
“My students don’t need me to learn. They need me to care.”-Liz Galarza
It is critical for students to understand expectations and feel comfortable within our class community so they can focus on learning. Here are a few strategies and examples of classroom management activities I implement with my students at the beginning of the school year.
Meet Your Classmates
Featured Product: Digital Meet Our Class for Google Slides
I am always trying to find ways to connect with my students from the first moments they enter into the classroom while engaging my students in thoughtful work. This is the perfect activity to tackle with students the very first day.
When students are finished generating their slide, they can have the chance to present their slide, share one aspect of their slide, or allow it to be read silently by their classmates. Finally, I post our completed slide deck on my Schoology page for students to read through on their own, and generate a classroom playlist based on the “walk-up songs” that students share. I love to play music in the classroom during work times and this is the perfect way to generate a playlist (edited, of course) that includes everyone’s contribution.
Classroom Acclimation Stations
Featured Product: Back to School Stations for Middle School
The first days of school can feel overwhelming to my new students facing new learning environments, new teachers, new classmates, etc. Just as I don’t want to be talked at all day, I recognize the same is especially true for my students. So we hit the ground running with a few “acclimation stations.”
I created this back to school stations resource to help ease my students back into work mode through digital stations. The four stations I included are: Email Etiquette, One Word Memoir, Words of Inspiration, and the Expectation Station.
From these stations I can gauge a bit about my newest learners as far as direction following, work/task completion, work independence or needed support, and effort level. My students arrive to me from very different places, and these station activities allow me to see my students in action and meet my learners where they are from the very first day.
Getting to Know You Activities
Featured Product: Getting to Know You Chit Chat Cards
Speaking and listening is critical at all grade levels. I need my students to be able to communicate clearly with one another as well as listen to understand. Classroom communities grow more effectively when students recognize the importance of being both thoughtful communicators and listeners. What better time to grow that classroom community, but in the first days of the school year!
I created this classroom management activity that allows my students to get to know one another better by listening and chatting with one another. It is a great way to practice thoughtful and purposeful communication within the classroom. I simply download the PDF, print, laminate, hole punch, and combine these chit chat cards with a book ring. I distribute one to each partner set, and allow my students to share their thoughts with a partner or in a small group to truly enhance their connection with one another, focus, and discussion. This is the ideal tool for the first days of school!
Classroom Expectations Display
Featured Product: Classroom Expectations Display and Discuss
I don’t implement rules, instead I share my “Classroom Expectations” with my students, and keep them on display at the front of my classroom. I created these as positive visual reminders for my students. I also made corresponding task cards to give students an opportunity to discuss these expectations in order to begin implementing these expectations from week #1.
This printable PDF resource is the perfect print and go classroom display resource to implement expectations while engaging students in thoughtful discussion.
Best of luck as you navigate this amazing year ahead with your incredible students.